Magazine article Opera Canada

Vancouver

Magazine article Opera Canada

Vancouver

Article excerpt

Should the opera's villain really get the largest surge of applause at curtain? Debatable, perhaps, but on Oct. 26 at Vancouver Opera's season-opening production of Mal, American baritone Gordon Hawkins, the most deliciously malevolent Scarpia it has been my pleasure to witness, deserved every accolade. His stage presence was terrifying, his sadistic relish at his victims' dread chilling, his vocal prowess masterful. His was a voice for giving orders--and being obeyed. Instantly.

He certainly had Tosca, passionately sung by Michele Capalbo, on the brink of despair. When all hope for her character seemed lost against Scarpia's cruelly lustful coercions, Capalbo melted into a resigned, almost weightless "Vissi d' arte," all the more heart-rending because it was so understated. Yet she rallied to storm the heights of passion and have her character stab Scarpia mercilessly to death.

The object of Tosca's affections, Cavaradossi, was sung by a vocally gleaming David Pomeroy, all swagger and coltish affection in Act I, metamorphosing to the fervent intensity of his gorgeously-sung "E lucevan le stelle" before facing the firing squad in Act III.

R. Keith Brumley's traditional period sets, from Lyric Opera of Kansas City, admirably simulated the architectural style of turn-of-the-18th-century Rome, while the opera's emotional shifts were underpinned by Gerald King's ever-sensitive lighting. Joseph McClain's adroit direction ensured the drama unfolded with all its relentless, cumulative inevitability. Conductor Jonathan Darlington's pacing unfailingly matched the opera's dramatic thrust as he coaxed a luxurious bed of sound from the orchestra to buttress the vocal sonorities soaring well above.

As the curtain calls drew to a close, but while the audience still was on its feet, a huge, beautifully lit birthday cake slowly descended from the rafters. …

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